On using Kimbrel in 9th in tie game on road
“It was one of those situations in the ninth, Roger and I talked it over, they’ve got Davis and Duda coming up, and really you feel comfortable – it’s first time I’ve done it, bringing closer in a tie game on the road – but you feel with the way our pitching matched up later in the game, that that was the game right there. Now does it make my toes tingle doing that? I don’t know, doing that with your closer on the road. He’s pitched four out of five days, you don’t want to run him out there for two innings. But you know what? It worked out. You’ve got enough experience in the bullpen with Moylan and Durbin and that group of guys, that if we do get a lead they can do it.
“But I felt, talking to Roger, that facing the middle of the order in that inning, was important.”
“I thought he did fine. If we’re not playing September baseball you let him pitch through that sixth. But he did a nice job, he really did.”
On contributions from McCann and Uggla in series
“Mac had a great series. Danny had a great series – today he was all over the place defensively. He could have saved a run there, the first one off Tommy, the ball just kicked away. [Uggla] knocked it down like you’re supposed to do with two outs, and just kind of kicked it away a little bit too far and Murphy was able to come around and score.
“But I thought we played good baseball here. Two tough games. This one was a tough-played game that could have gone either way.”
On saying “never” before about bringing in closer in tie game on road
“The key word is ‘never.’ I got lambasted [for saying before that he could never do it]. There’s a lot of variables, for me, for bringing the closer in on the road [in that situation]. One is, how much work does he have going into the situation. Can you go two innings? Where does he fit in the lineup, in a National League game. If you can double-switch and be able to go two innings, multiple innings. And the back end of your bullpen. And where does the opposing lineup fall in the ninth inning. And today it fell where the big boys were coming up.”
Ever close to doing that before today?
“I think we were close a couple of times. I think we had him up one time earlier in the year and we were able to score a run, so it never materialized.”
On using Kimbrel in tie game in the ninth
“After having Avilan go two innings yesterday, Kimbrel’s the guy to face the middle of the order. I think it was a great move. You know, it was something we haven’t done, but Kimbrel came in and pitched like he does every time out to put us in the 10th, and we throw some good at-bats on there.”’
On sweeping the series and getting big contributions from McCann and Uggla
“It’s something that we really haven’t done a whole lot this year, but we’re capable of doing a lot. If we get hot at the right time, this is going to be a scary team.”
What’s biggest factor for you, getting the shoulder better or getting the swing mechanics back?
“It’s a mixure of both. When it’s hurting, I cut my swing off and I’m not able to get through it. And when you swing like that for awhile, your muscle memory gets there. Then you take a shot and you’ve got to work through the kinks. Because for me I’ve been cutting my swing off for awhile, and the shot really helped me out, to stay through it. It’s the biggest thing.”
“He pitched great. It’s just one of those things, if it’s in April he probably gets into the seventh or eighth. But it’s late in the season, we’re going to play matchups. That’s kind of where he was at today.
“He bounced his [curveball] when he needed to, got ahead, pounded the zone with all four pitches. When Tommy does that, he wins ballgames.”
On Fredi using Kimbrel for a four-out save on Wednesday and in tie game on road, two things hasn’t done all season
“That’s our plan, we’re taking no game lightly, no lead lightly. We’re going to play this thing strong throughout the rest of the way and hopefully into the postseason and beyond that. Because we’re a really good team.”
How’d it feel to be trusted in that situation?
“It’s a fantastic feeling, but it’s one thing to be trusted and another thing to go out there and do it. It was really good to be out there and get the job done.”
Come a long way in a couple of weeks
“You think? [laughter] From not being able to get guys out in Triple-A to back here in the big leagues, it’s been a fun journey. Let’s face it, the last six years have been a fun journey. This is just adding to it.”
On the 10th
“I was warming up, so whether we scored or not I was going in. You try not to prepare yourself any differently whether you’re up by one or it’s a tie game. You’ve still got to get out of there without giving up a run. It was a lot of fun.”
“When they said [Kimbrel] was in the game, everyone just thought, OK, cool. Shut those guys down. It was a smart move when you think about it. They’ve got their 3-4-5 hitters, or whatever it was, coming up. A lot of people say that sometimes the toughest inning to throw is the seventh or eighth inning because you’re coming up against their best. I thought it was a terrific move and it worked out well for me, too.”
On his ninth-inning pinch-hit appearance
“I was just trying to get a good swing and hopefully get on base, and I did that. We put some pressure on them that inning, but he got a big strikeout to end that inning.”
On sweeping Mets and getting big contributions from McCann, Uggla
“Yeah, B-Mac and Uggs have struggled a lot of the year. I know they have some numbers, but they’ve been sporadic. And now that I’m scuffling a little bit, it’s important for somebody else to be stepping up. We all know B-Mac and Uggs can get the job done, and apparently they’re getting their swing back at a very good time.”
On taking out the lineup card
“Usually if we’ve lost two or three in a row, [Fredi Gonzalez] will come up to me and ask me to take the lineup card out. I’ve done it a handful of times this year. It seemed fitting today. Nice reception, especially right over the top of our dugout walking off the field. So that was nice.”
On curveball working early
“All my offspeed pitches were feeling good. Kind of went with the curveball a little more today. It felt better, and they seemed to hit my slider a little bit better…. I thought that little groundball single that Murphy scored on, and the one to Wright was a pretty good pitch, too. I felt pretty good with everything. Just Murphy got me pretty good. He looked good at the plate. I thought they hit good pitches.”
On retiring first 10, four by strikeout
“I felt like my fastball command – I was putting it exactly where I wanted it. I threw a lot of strikes and didn’t throw a lot of pitches, then kind of got in trouble towards the end there. But I still feel like I made good pitches. Overall I’m happy with it.”
Good step forward?
“Yeah, I feel like that’s a big one. I’ve said this a million times, but my fastball command was right where it needs to be. When I have that everything else is going to follow suit. I felt really good.”